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Livestock & Pets : Sheep

The articles below cover a number of topics about sheep health, sheep behaviour and sheep farming. There are more articles in The Basics section too. If you're looking for something in particular then use the search box above. If not, then browse the article titles and see what there is to help you.  If you can't find an answer here then why not ask in our discussion forums? One of the very friendly and helpful members is sure to be able to help you.

New articles are added all the time so don't forget to check back here regularly!


A tried and true design for sheep yards built by Bruce Binnie.

Sheep with naturally coloured wool are found occasionally in most breeds.  There are two colour ranges from black to pale grey, and from brown to pale cream.

Faecal Egg Counts measure the eggs per gram of faeces (epg) that pass through a sheep and hence the worm load.

There are many methods used around the world to shear a sheep using hand shears or blades.

Many back injuries occur when sheep are being handled, especially when lifting sheep over a fence.

Don't catch or hang on to sheep by their wool.

Maybe a good time for small farmers to start thinking about more sheep.

When considering the state of health of a sheep, it's a great help to know its liveweight.

Lifestyle blocks are unfortunately a great place to find sheep decorated with dags.

Sheep are the classical social "flocking animal".

Sheep eyes allow for wide peripheral vision – with each eye they can span 145°.

Sheep are seasonal breeders and ewes are stimulated to cycle by the declining daylight pattern in Autumn.

To keep sheep moving, make sure there’s always a clear way ahead.

Sheep are ruminants – and they start eating pasture from about a week old.

Sheep grow wool continuously, so it is important to shear them at least once a year.

Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH) now recommends that sheep are fasted prior to shearing

If your sheep get diarrhoea, their daggy rear ends will be a very obvious sign, not just to you but to all the passers-by who look over your fence!

New Zealand is well advanced in slaughter practices in all meat works, where cattle, sheep, goats and pigs are electrically stunned before their throats are cut severing the carotid arteries.

A bearing is a mass of flesh bulging from the vulva of a heavily pregnant ewe.

Docking removes most of the lamb’s tail to prevent build up of dags on the wool around the sheep’s back end.

Before you get the rings out to castrate your lambs this spring, decide if it’s a wise move to turn them into wethers.

When a ewe is preparing to lamb, she’ll try to find a quiet spot for a birth site.

Rearing a pet lamb can be a great experience and it’s especially rewarding if you’ve saved a young lamb from starvation and exposure.

A ram has two jobs.  He has to get ALL the ewes pregnant, and then improve the next generation of the flock via his offspring.

Hogget lambing is regularly promoted as a way to increase income, but results have been variable in the past.

A few hours before lambing, a ewe will move away from the main flock to find a quiet birth site.

Saving lambs this spring is all about being well prepared, having the right gear and knowing when to offer or seek help.

Start to save your old bread bags to put over new-born lambs when it’s wet and cold.

If you have to put your hand into the vagina, and then through the cervix of the ewe into the uterus to sort out a lambing problem, try this to make it easier:

Natural coloured fleece is sought after by handspinners, but the quality has to be right.

Every year, usually after the holidays in February and sometimes later, the owner of a lifestyle block with a small flock of sheep will realise that it’s that time of the year again.

The day you are offered an orphan lamb or kid to rear for school pet day - you have to be very hard hearted.

A few weeks before lambing the ewe will “bag up”. You’ll see her udder swelling.

Ever eaten Weetbix for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

If you’re keeping breeding records of your sheep flock, making sure you get the correct mother at birth is critical

If you get things wrong, you’ll end up with poor weaners that will be poor hoggets, and these in turn will make poor-performing ewes over their lifetime.

It's worth providing all the help you can in a small flock.  Here are some suggestions:

With today's more fertile sheep breeds, inevitably there are more lambs born, which everyone thinks is a good thing. 

Bonding between a ewe and her lamb(s) takes only a few minutes. After this she will not take a lamb that smells differently.

Every lamb is worth saving this spring - so it's worth putting a lot of effort into your lambing management. 

Weaning is a stressful time for lambs.

One of the problems that can occur when a ewe is lambing is that the cervix doesn't relax and expand fully.

Foot scald and footrot become much more common during prolonged spells of wet weather and they are not easy to deal with.

Gotlands are born with jet black, silken coats (prized generations ago for fur coats) and change colour as they age. Their faces and legs are black with no wool – barrels on tooth picks.

At this time of the year exit drenching is the term that we need to be thinking about the most. The idea behind exit drenching is that animals which were treated with a long-acting drench prior to lambing are likely to be approaching the end of the payout period of that product.

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